Specialist Presents Alborosie & Friends
June 29, 2014
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
Greensleeves Records' latest release is "Specialist Presents Alborosie & Friends", a double disc of duets chronicling the ascent between the renowned Jamaican music executive Clifton "Specialist" Dillon and his Sicilian-born reggae virtuoso Alborosie (real name Alberto D'Ascola). Specialist is the long-time manager of vocalist, songwriter, producer and dubmaster Alborosie and responsible for the success of other notable reggae acts including Shabba Ranks, Patra, Mad Cobra and Bounty Killer. Built on his musical ability and production expertise, Alborosie's reggae is a unique blend of vintage sounds built with old and new technology and great songwriting. Most tracks feature him playing multiple instruments and were recorded at his own Shengen Clan Studio in Kingston, Jamaica, that boasts a plethora of equipment owned by his heroes King Tubby and Coxsone Dodd. Specialist and Alborosie selected the artist's top reggae collaborations recorded over the last five years, many of which were featured on the international reggae star's last three studio albums ("Sound The System", "Two Times Revolution" and "Escape From Babylon".
Alborosie aka the 'Soul Pirate' was born in Sicily (1977) as Alberto D'Ascola. As a child he learned to play several instruments. In 1993 he formed the reggae band Reggae National Tickets. The band released several fine albums (he signed his first contract with BMG at the age of 17!) and was highly successful with their rootsy and swinging sound. In 2001 he moved to Jamaica where he started a label called Forward Records through which he released several highly popular singles. In 2006 he surprised us with the single "Herbalist" (banned on Jamaican radio by the authorities for glorifying ganja) and in 2007 "Kingston Town" and "Rastafari Anthem" were among the most spinned tunes. Out of nowhere, he released "Soul Pirate" and just took the world by storm; a tour-de-force that became an instant classic. He honed his versatility with the albums "Escape To Babylon", "Two Times Revolution" and "Sound The System". All sets included guests ranging from Mykal Rose to David Hinds to Ky-Mani Marley. In 2011 he became the first white artist to win the M.O.B.O. (Music of Black Origin) Awards in the Best Reggae Act category.
The 24 track double album shows Alborosie in top shape, combining classic hits and self penned original tunes. He puts his own contemporary style on classic hits in a truly authentic combination with the original artists. Any reggae fan will instantly recognize the vintage riddims which have become iconic throughout the years. One of Bob Marley sons, Ky-Mani Marley, is featured here no less than 3 times. On Natural Mystic Alborosie doesn't sing but delivers a fierce toast, while Ky-Mani sings the chorus of the song. Wicked! Revisiting Burnin' and Lootin' is no easy feat but Alborosie is able to inject his trademark singjay style without losing any balance and allowing Ky-Mani to shine on his father's classic. The original self penned Streets, a hip hop influenced tune, closes the second disc. The do-over of Steel Pulse's Steppin Out, originally released in 1984 on the "Earth Crisis" album is a nice combination tune with David Hinds from Steel Pulse, which has all ingredients to appeal to reggae fans as well as other music lovers.
Some nice love ballads here too. From 2008 comes Blessings and features songstress Etana and the combination is just awesome. Zoe steps up easily on Is This Love (not the Bob Marley tune!). Penthouse recording artiste Nikki Burt teams up in good style on Can't Let You Go, a tune produced by ace producer Christopher Birch. I Eye is a female artiste signed to Clifton "Specialist" Dillon and Alborosie's label Sheng Yeng Clan and she joins Alborosie on two tunes here. First there's the very upful tune Mama She Don't Like You, with I Eye going truly rocksteady in her vocals with Alborosie countering as a DJ. I Surrender To Your Love is a powerful lovers tune across a riddim that reminds us of "Promised Land".
So many top notch do-overs of classic tunes here! Precious is a 100% scorcher across the "Promised Land" riddim. Veteran deejay Ranking Joe joins him on this one, although the 7" single releases labeled it as U Roy. Forward to I Can't Stand It, the 1978 Dennis Brown tune featuring the legendary late Crownprince of Reggae prominently sampled. The very nice Money features the original Horacy Andy sample and its haunting horn line. Black Uhuru fans will be pleased with Alborosie's respectful rendition of Guess Who's Coming featuring the lead vocals of Mykal Rose. From 2008 comes the combination tune Outernational Herb alongside the vocal group The Tamlins. The tune is underpinned by Frenchie's interpretation of the "Baltimore" riddim by Sly & Robbie. Lady Ann and Alborosie bring us back to 1983 with Informa, riding effortlessly the "Heavenless" riddim.
For all Alborosie & reggae fans worldwide! Don't miss it.